Our brain and body can – in some ways – be compared to the heating system of our houses. In the Netherlands this system is often installed under the roof on the attic. Like our brain does for our body, it regulates the allocation of energy in the house. Last week it was very cold in The Netherlands, so, it was really annoying when we had a failure of our heating system that weekend. We were shivering to the bones when on Monday the technician came for repair. He quickly went to the attic, to check the boiler. Click here to read this article in Dutch.

A boiler failure can be dangerous, in particular if there is a gas leak or when parts are worn out over the years. It can cause the boiler to consume unnecessary gas or produce a higher CO2 emission, hence polluting the environment. We were happy that the technician could repair the failure the very same day.
Let’s transfer the metaphor of a “gas leak in your boiler” to “an energy-leak in your brainbody system”. Perhaps you had noticed already that you were not performing optimal and were less resilient, perhaps you felt pressure or stress. But you thought “as long as it goes well …”.
However, nobody accepts when a boiler implodes. NOBODY, right? That is because we equip heating systems with gauges and valves to ensure that the pressure doesn’t get too high. We trust that the system is well regulated and perform routine check-ups and maintenance to make sure the boiler is still in good shape. Just like we do maintenance checks for our car, checking our heating system is vital for our survival. Yet we take the risk of letting pressure and stress just happen in OUR BODY! And we do not check the levels of stress and learn ways for resilience. Often, we only go to see the doctor when we sense something is wrong with our health. Why do we risk that our system getting overheated, energy leaking out, stress level rising and risk implosion and burnout?

Why are we so careless for the nearest and dearest ecosystem that keeps us well and healthy …..our brain-body system?

The comparison with the heating system falls short when it comes to the more complex systems of our brain-body functioning. When our human system gets “overheated” at work while still functioning, we are often not aware of the functioning of the “gauges and valves” that control our stress-level. Instead of taking care for our well-being, most people rather “wait and see” and risk an implosion during chronic stress.
This scheme from Neurozone explains the different states and stages of stress:

In the green relaxed physiological state, we are able to handle our stress well. Some people are even more effective when they experience eustress, which is a positive form of stress that can drive peak performance. But such peaks cannot last for too long nor be repeated too often in a short period of time. There is a tipping point where we are not thriving anymore and where stress becomes chronic and toxic.

Survive or thrive?

When stress has become chronic (the red zone), we operate in survival mode. Our main concern is keeping our head above the water, swim to survive and not drown. The tipping point between thriving and surviving is different for everyone and depends on each person’  personal capacity for resilience.

Everyone experiences stress in different ways, because the brain is not simply a computer but linked to a set of highly specialized organic systems. Without stress, these systems and their relationships are good at performing their tasks, but under stress they are limited in their flexibility. These body systems are equipped with controls and unique wiring in each person’s individual brain. The level of resilience varies within each person and changes over time. These variations make it difficult to understand how to maintain and best optimize our brain-body system.

Caring & sharing

How great would it be if team members could maintain and regulate their brain body system to increase resilience and optimal performance? How great would it be if they could learn to communicate about their individual stress responses, so that these could be recognized at an early stage by other team members? And how great would it be if team members could hold each other accountable for maintaining their personal resilience? Time and again I see that sharing information with other team members and caring for the stress-levels and survival behavior (at individual and at team level), leads to a strong growth of mutual trust, open conversations and improved relationships. By recognizing survival behavior of colleagues and giving each other feedback, the team members themselves become their own pressure gauges and valves. The entire team can learn when and where to adjust when necessary. In this way the team can grow their performance readiness and be resilient.

The Resilience Index

We, Attune, use several diagnostic tools that are founded in science. One of these tools is the Neurozone “resilience index”. Neurozone defines resilience as: a neurobiological capacity that enables us to withstand break-down and to adapt in the face of challenges and adversity. The Resilience Index informs how resilient and high performance ready a person is at a given moment, compared to their age group. The Neurozone report then provides personalized, high impact recommendations to increase the resilience index and grow each individual’s high performance readiness. Repeated diagnostics with this survey allow for monitoring and maintaining the individual’s brain/body system and can contribute to optimizing those of the collective team.

Let us help you

Do you want to know how resilient you are and how to improve your high performance readiness? Connect with Sonja Vlaar for details about the assessment (for an individual or team) or for a 90 minutes online session with your team about “Brain Performance Readiness“.
Call: +31 06 51762344 email: sonja.vlaar@attune.nl or schedule a 15 minute call